“Our ‘friends on the inside’ are blessing the world and infusing hope in many communities around the world.”
- Dell Marie Wergeland, President, Compassionate Resource Warehouse
A group of offenders at Bowden Institution are showing that acts of kindness have no borders, donating their time to build metal crosses for churches in developing nations around the world.
The project began in 2012 when a group of offenders taking part in Bible study at Bowden brainstormed ideas on how they could give back to the community. The inspiration to build the crosses and send them to churches in the developing world came from an offender who was then working in Bowden’s CORCAN metal shop. Inspired by the offenders’ passion, staff with CORCAN – a CSC rehabilitation program that provides offenders with employment and employability skills training while incarcerated – joined forces with Reverend William Sargent, the Protestant Chaplain for CSC’s Prairie Region, to lend a helping hand.
“I remember how excited the offenders and staff were about this project and how much it meant to them,” says Shirley Moen, CORCAN’s Operations Manager.
Offenders employed by CORCAN built and finished the crosses, completing the work in CORCAN’s metal and paint shops at Bowden. The project used donated materials, and both staff and offenders worked through their coffee breaks and down time to finish the crosses.
“This is a great project for the offenders,” says Reverend Sargent. “They take so much pride in their contribution. This project gave the offenders a sense of connection with the community by allowing them to contribute while applying their newly acquired skills.”
To date, 20 crosses have been shipped free of charge by CANEXPRESS to the Compassion Resource Warehouse (CRW) in Victoria, B.C., a non-profit organization that sends clothing, medical and school supplies, and other basic necessities to developing countries. Another 15 crosses have been sent to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zimbabwe, Angola, Thailand, Myanmar, Swaziland, Rwanda, Ghana and the Philippines. The crosses are now on display in churches and other locations including orphanages for families affected by AIDS and rural medical clinics.
“Seeing the end result of this collaborative project was very rewarding for everyone involved,” says Valerie Poirier, a junior analyst with CORCAN. “We feel privileged to help with these kinds of initiatives, and act as a bridge between offenders wanting to give back to the community and underprivileged people. CORCAN is also fortunate for its multiple partnerships, including the CRW. The sense of fulfilment for offenders working on this project is something of which we are very proud.”